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When Gerry Mulligan wrote jazz classic Walking Shoes in 1954, little did he know that he would spark a flame in a little boy who would become the world’s best-known rock and roll drummer, Charlie Watts.

Influenced further as a young teen by Charlie Parker and Chico Hamilton, graphics student Watts got himself picked up by Alexis Korner in a London coffee shop to play in his original line-up of the Blues Incorporated sextet, subsequently moving mountains in blues circles throughout his career including joining the Rolling Stones but consistently thinking “blues was Charlie Parker, but played slow” until meeting Jagger Richards & Jones in 1963.

Watts is famous for saying that “25 years with the Rolling Stones was 5 years of work with 20 years of hanging about” but he kept his jazz chops alive recording ten predominantly live jazz albums of regular touring gigs with his eponymous quintets, tentets, big bands and orchestras.”

Watts was a founding Patron at The Jazz Centre and as ever, jazz connections abound when we were recently bequeathed a collection of jazz ephemera from bass man Ron Mathewson, a mainstay of Watts’ backing bands & orchestra.

Watts’ super-calm drumming style as at the heartbeat of the Rolling Stone, will ensure he will forever be remembered in that role. He remained the epitome of cool, a dapper, understated man-about-town and all-around nice guy and one who did his best to keep out of the rock and roll limelight whilst continuously shining in the world of jazz.

Rest in Peace Mr Watts from all your friends at The Jazz Centre UK.

Mark Kass

CEO & Trustee

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